Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mattogno's Failure to Evolve, 2000-2010

Mattogno was hyperactive in the first decade of the new century, producing a body of work that included his 'trilogy' on the Aktion Reinhard camps. On the subject of policy, I would identify four developments, which are really indicative of Mattogno's failure to adapt in an evolutionary way to how historians were discussing the Final Solution. Firstly, Mattogno began to tackle shootings in the East, but these were framed against a straw man which assumed that the "orthodox historiography" regards the Einsatzgruppen as forces that only shot Jews because they were Jews, and for no other reason. Secondly, Mattogno elaborated a theme, which he had introduced back in the 1980s, that there was continuity between the emigration policies of 1939-1941 and the Final Solution, and the only change was the destinations of the 'emigrants' and the manner of their emigration. Thirdly, Mattogno set out to neutralize the statements of leading Nazis such as Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels, prompted seemingly by the use of those statements in Shermer and Grobman's Denying History and perhaps by Irving's defeat in the Lipstadt court case. Finally, Mattogno in Sobibor reignited his discussion of the Hitler Order by confronting historians whom he had largely ignored to that point, such as Gerlach, Browning and Kershaw. This attack would continue in his riposte to our White Paper in 2013.

The discussion of shootings began in Chapter VII of Treblinka, leading to some concessions that would undermine his later attempts to downplay shooting actions. Most notably, on page 206, he conceded that in eastern Poland, "The “Soviet Jews” were shot, while the great majority of the remaining resident Jewish population was ghettoized." This immediately begs the question as to why the same shooters were not then instructed to kill all the Soviet Jews they found farther east in the pre-1939 borders of the USSR, especially as there was far less need for labour in the Soviet interior, due to Soviet evacuation and dismantling measures having destroyed more industry in the pre-1939 USSR that farther west. Mattogno then shoots himself in both feet by accepting at face value the excuse given in one Einsatzgruppen report that "It was frequently found that Jewish women displayed especially rebellious behavior. For this reason, 28 Jewesses in Krugloye and 337 Jewesses in Mogilev had to be shot." Mattogno simply offers incredulity that these Jews were shot on any slender pretext.

With regard to the western Jews deported to Riga and Minsk, Mattogno did not, in Treblinka, address most of the Nuremberg documentation relating to these deportees, such as Kube's letter to Lohse of July 31st, 1942. We had to wait until the 'riposte' of 2013 for a lengthy, albeit dishonest and partial, analysis of this document, which is discussed below.

The other notable policy feature of Treblinka is the frankly bizarre chapter entitled "National Socialist Policy of Jewish Emigration." This is Mattogno's first discussion in detail that connects such figures as Zeitschel, Rademacher and Luther to a timeline of emigration policy that sees no real breaks in the policy except for Hitler's decision to deport the Reich Jews in September 1941. Mattogno makes no attempt to analyze Hitler's motives for this deportation, as this would have required him to confront the fact that Hitler expected them to be "worked over in the harsh climate", as he revealed to Goebbels on August 19.

The year after Treblinka was published, Mattogno confronted Shermer and Grobman's Denying History. Part of his review first appeared here at the Adelaide Institute site in 2003, with translation and editing credited to Russ Granata, before a more formal release of the full work in The Revisionist in 2005 (see here). In this article, Mattogno introduces his systematic waving away of euphemisms. For example, in his discussion of Wannsee, Mattogno states that “in case of release” literally means released from custody, but if this meaning were correct, we would have to assume that the Nazis planned to keep surviving Jews in captivity for their full lifespan after working the others to death, a rather pointless and expensive exercise given that they could just kill the unfit and exhausted Jews in one procedure. This in turn exposes another insurmountable problem, namely Mattogno's inability to provide plausible motive.

Mattogno then discussed Hitler's speeches and asked rhetorically, "Does this mean that Hitler literally believed the “Aryan peoples” would be physically annihilated in case the war was lost?" Mattogno simply forgets that this was indeed the message of Nazi propaganda from August 1941 onwards, starting with Goebbels' exploitation of Kaufmann's Germany Must Perish. I will return to this problem below.

Mattogno showed even greater blindness in passing over the meaning of Goebbels' entry of February 14, 1942, which he translated as “together with the annihilation of our enemies they shall experience their own annihilation.” Mattogno simply denied that Vernichtung in this context means physical destruction when applied to human beings. Mattogno then made his first attempt to wave away the diary entry of March 27, 1942, by making the ludicrous claim that Goebbels used the term "barbaric procedure" to refer purely to evacuations.

Finally, Mattogno dealt with Himmler's Posen speech by stating that “most of you will know what it means when 100 corpses are lying together, when 500 are lying there or when 1000 are lying there” refers to actions such as the repression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. He also bizarrely argued that in the statement, “I am now talking of the evacuation of the Jews, of the extermination of the Jewish people,” Himmler had intended that “Ausrottung” was a synonym for “Evakuierung” rather than the latter being a pseudonym for the former. Mattogno repeats this idiocy on page 573 of the riposte.

In MGK's Sobibór, the main innovation was his erection of a Straw Man from the work of such historians as Browning and Kershaw on the Hitler order. For example, section 8.1 of Sobibór is a series of unfounded assumptions and fallacies of the excluded middle concerning the historiography of Hitler’s decision-making during 1941. Mattogno was deeply unhappy that many historians no longer rely upon a single Hitler order, so he pretended that all such historiography “borders on parapsychology.” This pretence in turn relied upon the false assumption that, if the "orthodox historiography" were true, there would have had to be a single moment when “the policy of emigration/evacuation was abandoned in favour of extermination.” This is a fallacy of the excluded middle because it ignores the fact that radicalization from deportation plans that were already decimatory to a policy that included homicidal gas chambers could be achieved by evolution, not a sudden moral leap.

The assumption of a false dichotomy between orders and ‘parapsychology’ ignores the ways in which historians have advanced their understanding of decision-making, not just with regard to the Third Reich but to all complex organizations. The relationship between centre and periphery is no longer viewed as always dominated by the former, but is instead understood by many historians to be a network of proposals, counter-proposals and requests for radical measures to resolve local problems.

Furthermore, Mattogno himself gives importance to consensual decision-making below Führer level when it suits his purposes to do so. Nearly all the policies proposed by Mattogno in Chapter 7 of Sobibór are driven by Hitler's underlings, who seem to be ‘working towards the Führer’ rather than in response to his orders; for example, in Mattogno’s discussion of the Madagascar Plan, the initiative  comes from below and Hitler gives his agreement (Mattogno hypocritically uses Ribbentrop's Nuremberg testimony in which Hitler supposedly referred to North Africa or Madagascar, but Mattogno omits the fact that Ribbentrop had a motive to exaggerate Madagascar's significance at Nuremberg). Mattogno also in that chapter gives importance to actors on the periphery such as Zeitschel, to the extent that he argues that “Zeitschel's proposal was thus accepted some months later by Hitler himself.” This contradicts Mattogno's assumption elsewhere that policy has to be viewed top down, with the peripheral actors merely as implementers.

Mattogno's Riposte 2013

1 comment:

Eric Danielski said...

I have a question for understanding.

When the Jews are „released from custody“, why you assumed that the Nazis planned to keep surviving Jews in captivity.

I think „released from custody“ means that the jews are let free and can go.

Is this right or what mean „released from custody“.